PANOPTICON — Kentucky (review)

PANOPTICON — Kentucky album cover Album · 2012 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Nightfly
Released in 2012, Kentucky is the fourth album from one man (Austin Lunn) band Panopticon. It’s a curious blend of bluegrass and black metal. Having had a quick listen to the two follow up albums, this seems to be pretty much a template for his later work, though perhaps a bit less bluegrass. Having not heard anything pre-Kentucky I couldn’t say if they are in the same vein or not.



There’s been lots of great music made over the years when two different genres collide but bluegrass and black metal make unlikely bedfellows. Bernhein Forrest In The Spring opens – all banjos, acoustic guitar and fiddle. It’s an instrumental and Lunn does a good job of replicating an authentic bluegrass/folk sound, no doubt steeped in this type of music coming from Kentucky. If I had no background information on what to expect the following song, Bodies Under The Falls would have been a total shock as it’s pretty much pure black metal and totally at odds with Forrest In The Spring until a bluegrass section arrives about halfway. The album largely alternates between a pure folk/bluegrass piece and a black metal track with elements of the aforementioned. There’s no denying Lunn is a talented individual with a good grasp on both genres. My only problem is that they are so far apart they don’t work for me as a whole. Whilst I wouldn’t particularly choose to listen to bluegrass, if I did I wouldn’t want it infused with black metal and vice versa. I found myself leaning towards the black metal infused tracks – much is typical of the genre with tremolo picked guitars, blast beats and snarling vocal work. All well done, though not ground-breaking, with some subtle melodies revealing themselves after a few plays but would prefer it minus any folk elements creeping in.



I certainly couldn’t imagine any bluegrass/folk fans who weren’t metal lovers as well enjoying this album despite the appeal that the acoustic based songs could have. However, if you’re a black metal devote and can appreciate the blend of two such unlikely genres then you could find much to enjoy here. For me, it doesn’t work so don’t envisage myself returning to Panopticon too often.
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Nightfly wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Definitely split us - I guess it boils down to if you can get your head around 2 such contrasting genres mixing as both the bluegrass and black metal is well done.
666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
This one really split us Reviewer's Challenge writers down the middle didn't it? I do actually understand the point of view of the less positive reviews. I loved the album myself but to be fair the audience probably is quite niche.
Vim Fuego wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I suppose because I'm not a big black metal fan I actually enjoyed the black metal parts! :D I do quite like bluegrass too, as one of my favourite country sub-genres, not that I'd go out buying much of it.
Nightfly wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Thanks guys. I'll give the latest one another listen and see if it clicks.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Good review, and I pretty much agree. I personally found the bluegrass parts more enjoyable than the black metal.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Good review and understandable point of view. You may consider trying the most recent album Autumn Eternal in more depth as its a very different album to this one. Almost pure atmospheric/post black metal.

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